When Tom asked me to contribute to the list of 100 Buzzmakers in Hawke’s Bay I was immediately resistant. A passage from the Dao De Ching came to mind: Not to value and single out men of superior ability is the way to keep the people from rivalry. In modern parlance, I take this to mean that in compiling a roll of significant people there will inevitably be some equally deserving of inclusion who will be overlooked, which is both unfair and contentious.Tom then asked if I would collaborate with Pat Magill in writing about those people who work in the social services.

My first memory of Pat is from Westshore in the late 1950’s when the beach was still sandy. He and my father would compete in who could land farthest up the beach from body surfing a wave.

Sentiment, and admiration for Pat’s dedication to social justice persuaded me to partake, but we were confronted with the vexing decision of who should be included, because in Hawke’s Bay there are legions of citizens who work tirelessly on behalf of others; lives spent in service to the community often working with those least privileged in extremely difficult circumstances.

They are the unsung heroes of our society. Their substantive contribution is mostly unrecognised, but the character of these folk is such that they don’t seek or need recognition.

These are our teachers, doctors, nurses, and social workers, many working way beyond their contracted agreements, because it is service they are dedicated to, not remuneration or recognition. And lest we forget, there are hundreds of men and women who coach or support sports teams and cultural activities, visit hospitals, the elderly, and the prison, and care in one way or another for their fellow citizens.

So too do many family members, who put aside their own needs and desires to spend time with children and the elderly in their families, many with special needs for caring.

Those who volunteer their time and expertise in supporting the afflicted, the suffering, the struggling, and the dispossessed are a foundation without whom our society would collapse. And like the foundations of a building they are under the surface, unseen, but absolutely essential to the integrity of the structure.

Appreciation of the invaluable role played by the volunteer sector, and those who go the extra mile in their community service careers, is lost in a society increasingly individualistic and obsessed with personal status and the cult of celebrity.

So in naming a few, we must remember the many, and that those mentioned are representatives of the collective who do outstanding work in our communities.

Sheryl Papistock is HB coordinator for the Sycamore Tree Project which is a restorative justice programme “about offenders coming to a proper understanding of the impact of their actions and making atonement, and victims getting the healing that enables them to move on with their lives.” Victims have the opportunity to “explore the concepts of repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation,” while the perpetrators, often for the first time, come to “understand the results of crime on victims and the community” and “agree to take responsibility for their actions, and begin to make amends.”

Carl Foreman founded the SALT initiative under the Salvation Army umbrella, which is based in the old McWilliams Winery in Farraday Street, Napier. His philosophy in mentoring young men between the ages of 11 and 17 is to assist them in finding their identity through a combination of sport, activity, and communication. Ten volunteers assist in the program and as Carl recognises, “we set it up and do the talk, but they do the work.”

Mihi Rigby works with Te Kupenga Hauora, an NGO that delivers health, social and disability services from a kaupapa Maori perspective. As well as contributing as an active member of the Maori Women’s Welfare League, Mihi works tirelessly in her community supporting those in need.

Sister Peter Chanel Hoban was principal of St Patrick’s School in Napier for 23 years and led the challenging task of schools amalgamation. Now retired from teaching, Sister Peter continues her lifetime work in the community in the pastoral care of children and families in a variety of situations.

Gwyneth Whelan has volunteered at Cranford Hospice for the past fifteen years and is among 350 volunteers who cook all the meals, wash all the laundry, provide flowers, and care for the grounds. Others work in the two shops and organise the Hospice Holly Trail which last year raised $180,000. Cranford Hospice has been a model of palliative care in the community by partnering volunteer workers with health professionals.

Kerry Kitone, like many who work on behalf of the community, has several strings to her bow. As well as being a Pilot Action Trustee, she has assisted in facilitating Treaty of Waitangi workshops with Robert Consedine. Over ten years 450 participants, including school principals and local government leadership, have come to understand the significance of partnership between Maori and the Crown. A typical observation is, “Why were we not taught this at school,” and the result is a deepening of understanding and cooperation.

Genesis Keefe is deeply immersed in serving her community by engaging rangatahi in after school activities and running holiday recreation programmes. She also supports offenders by attending the courts, all the while studying at EIT for a degree in Social Welfare, which will enable her to more effectively facilitate the essential changes in her community.

Zita Smith and Rita Rouse are Maori Wardens providing a security presence. They are also tireless fundraisers for various community projects through organisations like the Little Oaks project and the Napier Warehouse Inspiration team. They are shining examples of doing the hard work to raise funds for worthwhile causes.

Linda Larrington is the manager of Red Cross in Napier and in addition to her general administrative role co-ordinates Meals on Wheels to elderly folk in their homes. 170 volunteers deliver 3,000 meals a month. Linda cited one volunteer who recently retired after 32 years of service.

Colleen Hall typifies the spirit of volunteers when she says, “it’s rewarding and helps me keep busy.” And busy she certainly is, often spending four days a week driving buses for the elderly, and sorting clothes at the Red Cross Centre. Colleen was reluctant to be on our roll pointing out she was just one of forty volunteers working in the shop.

Mereana Pitman works with DOVE which offers a range of education programmes aimed at stopping domestic violence, providing support for women, monitoring of courts and police, and a coordinated interagency response to family violence. Mereana also facilitates workshops where, with extraordinary patience and aroha, she explains the history and consequences of colonisation and the role of the Treaty of Waitangi in redressing the past and moving toward a positive future.

We have barely touched the surface of the people and organisations in Hawke’s Bay who give support and care in our community … care that is essential to our stability and well being. As Pat Magill says, “Communities thrive on volunteers. Many people don’t know there’s a need. People don’t know how valuable they are.”

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